The travel costs for Whitehall have increased by over 10% in the past four years, despite efforts to bring down civil service expenditure. Sources close to the situation stated that some of the officials in certain departs are stilling permitted traveling by first class in flights. The National Audit Office stated that the central government does not have any clear information about the actual amount of money spent as the civil servants have been inconsistent with their policies regarding rail and air travel.
Margaret Hodge, who heads the public accounts committee, expressed her deep concern about government’s lack of knowledge about the amount of money spent on travel. She added that departments in government offices need to be more careful while making travel plans to book well in advance for efficient spending from the public purse. There were eight departments that discontinued flying first class, while five inclusive of Home Office, HM Revenue & Customs, and Ministry of Defence still flew first class.
The National Audit Office has highlighted that 94% of the 304,000 flights booked between 2013 and 2014, priced at GBP105.4 million, were all economy class. Furthermore, out of 259 first class flights in the same period, 80% or 207 flights were taken by Ministry Defence. The audit office also affirmed that the government departments took many flights within U.S. or Middle East, which tantamount to business class elsewhere.
The MoD asserted that the flying by first class has been banned unless as demanded by exceptional situations. Additionally, flying by first class also requires travelers or their offices to ensure that the ticket is the best deal of tax payer’s money.